STA, 25 April 2022 - Slovenia recorded close to 700,000 tourist arrivals in the first quarter of the year, a more than ten-fold increase over the year before and more than in the same period in 2021, Statistics Office figures show.
Domestic tourists accounted for roughly 53% of the total, with guests from Croatia, Italy, Austria and Hungary accounting for the bulk of foreign arrivals. Total tourist stays were just below two million.
In March alone, arrivals similarly rose by a factor of more than ten on the year before to 264,000, with tourism establishments reporting a combined 725,000 stays.
A portion of the uptick in March is attributed to Ukrainians fleeing war who temporarily registered as tourists, either en route to other countries or before applying for asylum.
More than 9,000 Ukrainian guests were registered in March, and they stayed on average for three nights.
STA, 21 April 2022 - The city of Maribor launched on Thursday a bicycle sharing system called Mbajk that currently comprises 21 docking stations and 210 bicycles spread across the broader area of the city centre. The first hour of rental is free of charge.
The system is scheduled to officially open after the May Day holidays.
The bikes are for single-ride hire, not for multi-hour or full-day hire. "This is a practical and environmentally friendly addition to the public passenger transport system in the city," the Maribor municipality said.
Users can rent a bike at any of the stations and return it to any of the stations as well. Bikes can be rented via the terminal at the station or using the Mbajk mobile app. Users can also check the availability of free bikes and locks for each station.
They pay an annual registration fee of EUR 3. The first hour of each rental is free for an unlimited number of rentals. Users can register for the system at www.mbajk.si.
The system will be operational 24 hours a day and every day of the year.
The municipality has contracted Europlakat to set up the system under a 15-year contract. The company provided 15 stations and 150 bicycles, while other partners, led by the NLB Group, provided the rest.
According to Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič, the network will be expanded further in the future.
STA, 19 April 2022 - The 36th Slovenian Music Days, a week-long series of concerts dedicated to contemporary Slovenian music, will start at the Cankarjev Dom arts and congress centre on Tuesday evening. The opening concert will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the cultural association Glasbena Matica Ljubljana.
Tonight's concert will feature former students of the Ljubljana Academy of Music who have become well-known soloists - Mojca Bitenc Križaj, Nuška Drašček, Martin Sušnik and Peter Martinčič.
The choirs of Glasbena Matica and the Academy of Music will be conducted by Sebastijan Vrhovnik and Alenka Podpečan, respectively. The academy's symphonic orchestra led by Simon Dvoršak will also take the stage alongside the academy's band of recorders led by Mateja Bajt.
Works by late-Renaissance Slovenian composer Jakob Petelin Gallus (1550-1591), composers Matej Hubad (1866-1937), Uroš Krek (1922-2008) and Austrian composer Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) will be played. Composers Nane Forte and Klara Mlakar will be presented for the first time.
The programme of this year's opening of the festival was inspired by the first major guest performance of the mixed music choir of Glasbena Matica outside Slovenia, in Vienna in 1895, which was held as a sign of gratitude for aid provided to Ljubljana after a devastating earthquake.
The festival will continue on Wednesday with chamber music series the Concert Atelier of the Slovenian Composers' Association. On Thursday, The Night of Slovenian Composers will be held and on Friday a concert of solo performances.
The string ensemble Ensemble Dissonance and soprano Nika Gorič will take the stage on Saturday.
As part of the festival a two-day international musicological symposium on music associations in the 19th century will be held along with a presentation of the third volume of The History of Music in the Slovenian Lands.
The 36th Slovenian Music Days will wrap up on 24 April with a performance of the choir of the Slovenian Philharmonics conducted by Gregor Klančič.
Learn more and get tickets at the official website
STA, 14 April 2022 - The low-cost carrier Transavia France, a member of Air France KLM group, launched twice-weekly flights between Paris Orly and Ljubljana on Thursday, joining Air France, which operates daily flights between Ljubljana and Charles de Gaulle.
Transavia France will fly Tuesdays and Thursdays with a Boeing 737-800. The first flight was almost fully booked.
Janez Krašnja, head of airline management, said the airport was glad to have two airlines operating flights to Paris.
"We sincerely hope that the epidemiological situation will make it possible to make this route a permanent feature," he said.
The arrival of Transavia France increases the number of airlines operating flights to Ljubljana to 15.
Krašnja said the number of tourists going through the Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport was increasing.
While flights to Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kyiv have been cancelled due to war, Turkish Airlines will increase the frequency to ten flights a week and FlyDubai plans to introduce daily flights to Dubai in the summer.
Last year the airport handled 420,000 passengers. This year the figure is planned to at least double absent new shake-ups due to Covid-19 or other crises.
STA, 14 April 2022 - Slovenia's hotel capacities are almost fully booked for Easter and Labour Day holidays. Slovenians are still redeeming their tourist vouchers and visitors from nearby countries are starting to flock in as well. With major business events regaining momentum, the country is also seeing urban tourism gaining ground again.
The Sava Group, Slovenia's largest tourist accommodation provider, has seen bookings return to similar levels as those recorded in the pre-Covid year of 2019. Their capacities for the upcoming holidays are booked to up to 90%. Most of the guests coming to spend their holidays there are from Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Serbia. The company also hopes to see air traffic with countries further away from Slovenia get back on track as soon as possible.
As Covid restrictive measures are lifted, the coastal Primorska region is also regaining foreign guests, which previously made 75% of the region's tourism business. Easter holidays usually see an increase in foreign guests, whereas the majority of guests making reservations for Labour Day holidays are Slovenians.
The Kranjska Gora ski resort is recording a similar trend of Austrian, Italian and German guests. Some 75% of capacities have already been booked. They are seeing an upward trend of last-minute reservations and expect to see an influx of Slovenian guests as vouchers are about to expire, whereas visitors from the Benelux countries are cautious in making bookings due to the Ukrainian war.
Lake Bled resorts see the Easter holidays as an indicator of how the summer season will pan out. Currently, they are happy with the number of bookings, Bled Tourism representatives say, as they are also almost fully booked. Most of their guests are Croatian, Italian, Hungarian and German. Meanwhile, the nearby Bohinj lakeside resort is not as busy at only 60% capacities booked, but local tourism providers expect business will get back on track in the summer.
Urban tourism in Ljubljana and Maribor was one of the areas most hit during the pandemic. Now the situation is looking brighter, says the president of the Slovenian Hoteliers' Association and head of Ljubljana's Slon Hotel Gregor Jamnik. The last couple of weeks have seen some positive trends. Business tourism is back as companies lift travel bans for their employees. Slon has 80% of their capacities booked on Easter and 50% for Labour day.
"We are very glad that the headlines are not full of Covid anymore. Unfortunately, there is the war in Ukraine, but for now it is not affecting us as negatively as we feared," Jamnik said.
He is pleased by the return of British and American guests who have covered the loss of income due to the absence of the Russians. Asian tourists are also scarce in comparison to Europeans who are now travelling more regionally.
Jamnik is content with how the season is going, but concerned about the price hikes that are imminent if the tourism sector is to cover the rise of costs. "We are seeing our suppliers raising prices on a weekly basis," he added.
STA, 13 April 2022 - The 70th Ljubljana Festival will bring over 80 classical music concerts, opera and ballet performances and more this summer. It will open with Summer Night - Power to Words, a tribute to Slovenian pop song lyrics from the 1960s in Congress Square on 21 June, and close with a Vienna Philharmonic concert at Cankarjev Dom on 8 September.
The Vienna Philharmonic will perform with Finnish conductor Esea-Pekka Salonen and Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder as the soloist.
Another highlight will be Verdi's Requiem, with conductor Karel Mark Chichon leading the orchestra and choir of the Slovenian Philharmonic on 3 June at Cankarjev Dom.
The concert will feature Bulgarian soprano Krasimira Stojanova, Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanča, Ukrainian tenor Dmytro Popov and Italian bas Riccardo Zanellato.
Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazov will meanwhile give a concert at the end of August.
Approximately at the same time Spanish tenor Placido Domingo will be featured as part of the Spanish Night concert.
The London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform with Slovenian violinist Lana Trotovšek and Ukrainian viola player Maxim Rysanov as soloists.
One of the greatest classic pieces, Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust will be conducted by Charles Dutoit from Switzerland.
French pianist Helene Grimaud will appear as soloist with the Symphony Orchestra from Pittsburgh and conductor Manfred Honeck from Austria.
The Bejart Ballet Lausanne from Switzerland will give two shows in early July, to be followed by Wedding & Rite of Spring, a ballet by choreographer Edward Clug against the backdrop of Stravinski's music.
Apart from Clug's ballet, SNG Maribor will also appear with Bizet's Carmen opera with conductor John Svinghammar.
American actor John Malkovich will bring to Ljubljana The Music Critic, a theatre piece the festival's director Darko Brlek recommended saying: "You'll laugh to tears".
Appearing for the first time in Ljubljana will be the West-East Divan Orchestra with conductor Daniel Barenboim and Chinese Lang Lang as the soloist on piano.
The festival will also serve as the platform for his first appearance in Slovenia for Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez. He will sing accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of RTV Slovenija and Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv.
The festival will also feature among others the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, The West Side Story musical and concerts by Slovenian singer Vlado Kreslin and musical group Laibach.
STA, 12 April 2022 - Eight restaurants from the western region of Goriška Brda have joined forces to launch of a new brand in a bid to promote local cuisine in this wine-growing region.
"The Brdalicious brand aims to bring together local gastronomy businesses and offer a plethora of regional delicacies year-round," Tina Nova Samec, the head of the local tourism centre, told reporters on Tuesday.
The brand is to further promote the Brdo region and attract locals as well as foreign visitors, thus help tourism services providers, who are part of the project, to expand their business.
Inspired by the region's culinary traditions, the project will kick off with tastings, spanning over two months and bringing together gastronomy providers, each of which will prepare a dish representing Brdo's culinary heritage.
The tastings will feature dishes typical of the Brdo region, such as white polenta, potato gnocchi and frittatas, all of them paired with wild microgreens.
Such seasonal dishes will be associated with the new brand year-long with special emphasis on festive delicacies, such as briške fulje, sweet fried bread dumplings that are served for Easter, or krodegine, meat sausages served on Saint Martin's Day.
The brand's goal is to present the region's culinary history while also attracting foreign food enthusiasts and provide them with high-quality service.
If you ask any Slovene what they did at the weekend, the vast majority will reply with something like: “I went hiking with my family”. Hiking in Slovenia is almost a national pastime, and if you’ve ever been to this wonderful country then you will understand why. Slovenia boasts a huge network of well-maintained and well-marked hiking and walking trails.
Being a mountainous land situated at the eastern extremity of the European Alps, you might think that hiking is confined to that part of the country. However, while it’s not all mountains, the hills are very much alive in the rest of the country. As the mountains in the north taper off, they give way to a rich terrain of undulating hills dotted with green pastures, heavily forested hillsides and well irrigated valleys with rivers and plateaus that run right off to the Adriatic coast.
There are many trails suitable for families. Photo by Ian Middleton
Lake Bled, its island and castle offer fairy tale views to go with the walk, and good cream cake at the end. Photo by Ian Middleton:
Although pretty much everywhere you go you’ll find somewhere to hike, the best trails lead from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea. There are long distance tracks, but also many smaller one-day routes within Triglav National Park and over to the Soca Valley. These take you over and around the Karavanke Alps, Kamnik Alps and Julian Alps.
Hiking holidays are becoming ever more popular these days. However, not everyone wants to rough it along the way, so a number of special long distance routes have been developed to accommodate all types of travellers. Many trails have been built in short stages. Therefore, active holidaymakers can hike from town to town and sleep in a nice warm, cosy hotel bed each night. You can plan your hikes according to the amount of time you have available, and even do the whole trail in stages over the years. Numerous websites are available offering trail info and maps, but one of the best ways is to go hiking with a trusted local hiking operator like Slo Trips. You can either take a guided tour with one of their expert guides, or a self-guided holiday that has been meticulously planned and organised by their specialist team. They’ll even design a bespoke trip just for you.
Here are just a few of the great trails you could follow:
One of the biggest and longest is the Alpe-Adria Trail. As the name suggests, it leads you from the majestic Alps to the Adriatic Sea. This long distance hike connects Austria and Italy via Slovenia and takes you alongside some of the most beautiful mountain scenery. It’s not a high alpine trail, so therefore accessible by most experienced walkers.
Of course there is no need to trek the whole length. There are 43 stages so you can choose some shorter routes for your holiday. Each stage is around 20kms long and takes roughly 6 hours.
This is a great circular hiking trail that leads you around the eastern Julian Alps and the entire Triglav National Park. It first opened in October 2019 and now comprises 20 stages and a total distance of 300kms.
Along the Juliana Trail. Photo: YouTube
If you are a seasoned, avid hiker who prefers something a little more daring and challenging, then several great peaks await you to tackle them in each of the three mountain ranges; including Slovenia’s tallest, Mt. Triglav in the Julian Alps. Tradition says that anyone who tackles this mountain is awarded the honorary title of a “True Slovene”. In the Karavanke Alps, Mt Stol is the highest, and Mt. Grintovec offers the biggest challenge in the Kamnik Alps. Many of these high alpine trails have a mountain hut where you can sleep for the night.
If you prefer a more leisurely trekking holiday with good food and great wine, then the western Karst offers some fabulous trails that meander through sunny terraced hillsides, along rivers and lead to the sparkling Adriatic. In eastern Slovenia you will also find many great wine routes to hike. Be careful though, as Slovenian wine is so delicious you might find yourself walking round in circles after drinking more than anticipated.
Whatever your level of fitness or desire, Slovenia will no doubt have the perfect hiking trail for you. For more in-depth information about hiking in Slovenia have a read of this great article here.
STA, 30 March 2022 - Orto Fest, the largest club music festival in Slovenia, will be held in the Orto Bar club in Ljubljana from 31 March to 30 April, bringing 19 Slovenian and seven foreign acts. There will be no attendance restrictions due to Covid.
While there are several big names in Slovenian rock music in the line-up, many young hopefuls will perform as well. One of the main missions of Orto Fest is to serve as an incubator for up-and-coming Slovenian groups.
The 22nd Orto Fest will open on Thursday with a sold-out concert by the Slovenian alternative rock band Siddharta.
Notable Slovenian acts at the festival include Laibach, Elvis Jackson, Dan D!, Prismojeni Profesorji Bluesa, Slon in Sadež, Zmelkoow, and Pero Lovšin.
Providing festival with the international note are Serbia's Partibrejkers and Pero Defformero, Croatia's Brkovi, Denmark's Baest, Poland's Vader, Belgium's Reject the Sickness and Latvia's Mara, among others.
After being held in alternative formats for the past two years due to the coronavirus epidemic, this year there will be no restrictions.
The organisers stressed that Orto Fest is an independent festival that has survived for 22 years without subsidies and other financial aid, so far hosting almost 700 bands and performers.
STA, 22 March 2022 - A section of the famous Way of St James, or the Camino de Santiago, that is running through the north-eastern-most part of Slovenia will be revived to attract even more visitors both from home and abroad.
There are three branches of the world's best known pilgrimage route running through Slovenia, including one leading from Kobilje near the border with Hungary via Ptujska Gora and through Tuhinjska Dolina valley to Ljubljana.
One branch takes pilgrims from Slovenska Vas near the Obrežje border crossing with Croatia through Dolenjska and Primorska to Italy's Trieste and one runs from Ljubljana and across the Korensko Sedlo pass (Wurzenpass) to Austria or via Monte Santo di Lussari to Val Canale in Italy and on to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
It is the section of the path linking on to Hungary that local communities and tourism boards in Prekmurje and Prlekija would like to revive, also by involving tourism and hospitality establishments in the effort.
The project was presented in Kobilje on Tuesday with the local tourism official Saša Fras noting that the village was the only spot in Slovenia where two pilgrimages' ways met, the Way of St James and the Way of St Martin.
The Slovenian section of the Way of St James is walked annually by around a thousand people. More are expected in the future as the way through Slovenia is quite beautiful, said Igor Vidmar, the head of the Association of Friends of the Way of St James.
Their project will include a film about the Prekmurje section of the pilgrimage, and a promotional tour for partners and journalists on 19 April between Ljutomer and Jeruzalem along with a presentation of offerings along the way at Jeruzalem Mansion.
While teenagers may be dreaming of the lie-ins, laziness, and freedom that the summer holidays afford, many parents of teens might not find the same joy in considering how to keep their teenager sufficiently occupied and stimulated for weeks on end during the long summer break - which can extend to as much as 10 weeks or more in some European countries.
Explorer Camps Slovenia – “More than just a camp, a home away from home”
Enter Explorer Camps, the leading teen camp in Europe. Explorer have been running technology-free camps in the great outdoors since 2016, and they continue to get bigger and better every year. Based in Slovenia, a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, ideally located in the heart of Europe, Explorer camps offer an incredible outdoor experience for teenagers aged up to 17 years old. Based in the comfort of a traditional family-run hotel on the banks of the stunning Kolpa River, teens have the opportunity to try out a variety of outdoor adventure activities daily, including rafting, sailing, scuba-diving, the adventure park, climbing and paintball. Other activities include horse-riding, archery, hiking, swimming in the on-site pool, and a range of exciting whole-camp evening events and activities arranged by the counsellors.
With the camp very much child-centred, focussing on the needs and development of each camper as an individual, the real value of the camp goes far beyond the endless activities and opportunities for adventure on offer. The camps intend to inspire and empower teenagers, challenging them in a variety of ways and helping prepare them for real life. Teens become immersed into an incredibly caring environment with a very personal touch. All staff undertake an extensive camp training programme, and unlike many other camp environments, the majority of counsellors are professionally trained teachers, allowing them to use their wealth of experience and knowledge of child development to guide teenagers on their camp journey. With an extremely high staff-camper ratio of 1:4, the Explorer team also includes dedicated nurses to ensure the highest levels of care, and a camp photographer to help capture the memories and share teens’ experiences with parents daily while the teenagers are away at camp.
Underpinning all the activities are the core camp values of respect, responsibility, care, honesty and adventure. With the help of teenagers’ mentors, these values are reinforced through both daily reflection sessions and the Explorer reward and recognition programme, which received great feedback from both campers and parents following its introduction in 2021.
Explorer camps have a ‘family feeling’ with the directors and counsellors offering a highly individualised approach. Parents are included throughout the camp journey, starting with extensive contact with the camper and their family well before the start of camp, and continuing afterwards, with parents receiving a report post-camp detailing their teenagers’ progress while away. With the camp forming a tight-knit community with a real sense of belonging, a large proportion of campers return year after year. As such the Explorer team like to think of themselves as more than just a camp, but rather ‘a home away from home’. New for 2022 will be the introduction of monthly ‘virtual camps’, so that the close bonds and friendships formed during the summer can continue throughout the year.
Explorer Teen camps are split into age-based groups, with 13 to 14 year-olds forming the ‘Trailblazers’ group & 15 to 17 year-olds the ‘Pathfinders’. Explorer promotes teens’ independence by offering a separate hotel building dedicated solely to the teen groups, while teenagers are given added freedom through the opportunity to plan and schedule their entire week. With an incredible choice of different activities to pick and choose from on a daily basis, every teenager is sure to find something for them.
Teenagers are treated as young adults and given both additional freedom and obligations in an effort to promote responsibility and develop their independence and maturity, while specially designed 'Teens only' activities have been created to push teenagers to step outside of their comfort zone, helping them develop their teamwork skills, decision-making ability, self-confidence and resilience.
With Explorer building on the camp programme year on year, brand new for 2022 is the addition of a Teen Leadership Programme to the European summer camp programme. The first such teen leadership programme launched on camps in Europe is designed for 13 to 17 year-olds who want to develop leadership skills and be better prepared for life. Teens are challenged to create, plan and lead activities within the camp environment. The programme gives teenagers an opportunity to develop practical leadership skills while making new friends and having fun, and teen leaders become role models for other campers.
The teen leadership program comprises three separate, but complementary programmes, categorised according to age, starting with the Junior Leaders-in-Training (JLITs), for teens aged 13-14, on to Leaders-in-Training (LITs) for 15-16 year olds, and progressing to Counsellors-in-Training (CITs) for the oldest teenagers on camp (17 year olds). This offers a comprehensive leadership program for older teenagers, while also providing opportunities for younger teenagers on camp to begin their leadership journey and develop their skills over a period of up to 5 years. Every teenager receives personal mentorship from an experienced Explorer counsellor, who guides, supports and teaches the young leaders throughout their two-week journey. Regular on-camp workshops are in place to develop teens' practical experience, using a mix of theory and hands-on sessions.
The teen leadership program is exclusively available for teenagers who stay on the European camp for two weeks. Teenagers remain a regular part of their group throughout the daily activity sessions, but, with the support of senior counsellors they are given additional opportunities during the camp to develop their leadership, organisation and communication skills. A variety of methods are used in the programme including daily mentoring, practical workshops, and hands-on leadership experience with other campers.
The leadership programme builds on the core values of the camp, and, regardless of their age or stage in the journey, campers joining the leadership programme are expected to start with the core camp leadership values, meaning they should be reliable, hard-working, committed, and motivated. The programme seeks to build on these by developing a number of key leadership qualities, including decision-making, self-awareness, interpersonal skills, planning and organisation, and creativity. These skills can be developed year on year, with new modules added at each stage of the programme such that a teenager can build on their leadership abilities as they grow.
In addition to the programme-specific modules, campers on the teen leadership programme learn new practical and life skills through participation in a 2-week community service project, and further have the opportunity to become certified in other key skills (emergency first response and mental health first aid training will both be offered in 2022, for example). These are ‘life’ programs that give teenagers the opportunity to develop strong leadership skills, self-confidence and maturity within the fun and safety of a camp setting. These skills are not only useful to teen leaders during the camp, but will help teenagers throughout their lives as they support and lead the groups and communities they become a part of.
Are you thinking of sending your teenager to camp this summer? Here are 5 great reasons for your teen to choose Explorer camps:
In 2022 Explorer are running five teen summer camps across July and August. Priced at 699 euros for a 7-day camp, the package includes hotel accommodation, all meals and activities and 24/7 supervision with a 4:1 student: staff ratio. Entry to the teen leadership programme is by application only, beginning with a short letter of application to outline why you would like to join the programme. Further details can be found on the website www.explorercamps.com/summer-camps/ or check out Explorer’s ninety 5-star reviews on Google.